baby and brotherne of the nicest things about being pregnant is that when mom is pregnant, the whole family is pregnant, too. Older siblings usually have well-established roles in family hierarchy and understand enough about the birds and bees that they don’t feel too threatened by the arrival of a new sister or brother. Younger children, however, may require a little more time and TLC to get comfortable with the impending arrival of a new family member.

Behavioral researcher Priscilla Dunstan suggests working with each child’s dominant sense to help them understand the changes to mom and the family that are on the way. Dunstan created the Dunstan Baby Language that helps parents better understand the messages a baby sends long before it can verbalize its needs. She’s written two books - “Child Sense” and “Calm the Crying” - and operates a behavioral consulting firm in New York City.

  • Tactile children, those who learn best by touching and doing, may appreciate feeling the baby kick and touching mom’s growing belly. Let them help decorate the baby’s room and teach them games they can play with the baby. A doll might help them learn how to gently handle a newborn sibling.
  • An auditory child will appreciate being included in conversations about the baby. Encourage them to sing to the baby in mom’s tummy, teach them lullabies, and read books to them about families welcoming a new baby home. When the baby is home, teach the older sibling what a newborn sounds like and what the sounds mean to encourage help with caring for the baby when it cries out.
  • Visual children are likely to be the most concerned about mom’s changing body. Assure them your growing tummy does not hurt and that it’s OK if other grown-ups mention it. Show pictures of your growing body before and after his or her own birth. Make them a part of the baby-related gifts and new purchases that come into the home and let them help with setting up the baby’s room. Encourage drawing and other creative projects where they can express their thoughts about the arrival of a new family member.
  • Children influenced by the senses of taste and smell are naturally nurturing children. Teach them role-playing games with dolls and teddy bears so they can learn what’s expected of a big brother or sister. Involve them in preparations for the baby and in daily care of the baby once it arrives. Encourage this child to draw pictures and make things for the baby. Especially important is to reinforce your love to this child, assuring them that a new baby means more love for everybody, not less.

Each child’s age and level of emotional development will influence how much the child wants to know about a soon-to-be new sibling. Make the pregnancy as much a part of the child’s life as it is your own. Make the child your partner in the pregnancy so they will feel it’s their baby, too, and perhaps feel less threatened by new demands of your time and attention.

Source: "Child Sense: Helping Your Child Cope With Your Pregnancy." The News Tribune. Web. 4 Nov 2013.